11.30.2007

Middle East Weekly Wire by POMED

These are some excerpts from the latest Weekly Wire by the Project on Middle East Democracy.

November 26, 2007

Questioning the US Approach to Lebanon: Andrew Exum and POMED's director of advocacy, Stephen McInerney argue that the U.S. tendency to view Lebanon only "through the lens of confrontation with Iran" prevents effective, coherent policy toward Lebanon. Moreover, another pundit says that "the US position doesn't carry much weight with the Lebanese these days mostly because of its role in Israel's invasion last year, when American officials did little or nothing to stop the incursion." Also, according to one observer "Lebanon remains the one bright hope in the Bush administration's waning attempts to promote democracy in the Middle East," but "If the opposition prevails, then Syria and Iran will have gained extra regional leverage at the expense of the US losing its Levantine toehold." Others ask "Is this deadlock in Lebanon someone's way of getting Lebanon on the agenda when the USA, Israel, and representatives from key Arab States meet in Annapolis this week?"

Commentary on the "Military Option" for Iran: Some argue that a military option toward Iran should be kept on the table because "Attempts to stop Tehran's rush to develop nuclear weapons are less effective without it," however, they argue it "must be a last resort." Others argue that crippling Iran's nuclear program by force is necessary because "Nothing else will stop Tehran." Some maintain that a military option toward Iran is not feasible because "the collateral damage inflicted by the [Iraq] war on America's relationships with the rest of the world is a lot deeper and broader than most Americans have realized," as such, she asks "What, then, are we left with?" One pundit responds to this question and says deterrence is the answer.


In the Middle East

Lebanon After Lahoud: Last week, following the departure of President Emile Lahoud with no elected successor, some are saying that "Lebanon has entered a perilous and unprecedented constitutional vacuum..." Consequently, one pundit asks "So where does this leave us?" Moreover, in light of the emergent power vacuum another observer says "the most predictable pressures will come from Lebanese Maronites, for whom the presidency is reserved." Also, some analysts are worried that in the midst of the political stalemate "the opposition could take to the streets, name a rival government or take up arms against the government." Some say the agreement to postpone Parliament's presidential election for one week "is a very wise move" and that it has "defused some of the tension plaguing the country." However, Hezbollah warned "that failure to reach agreement on a new president in the week ahead could leave the divided country without a head of state for a long time." Some say that "Lebanon is on the brink of being torn apart by the combination of internal and external polarization" and that "Speculation is rife in Lebanon that some countries might see benefit in igniting such a fire." In addition, one observer argued that both sides of the political divide seek to find a consensus candidate in secret negotiations and that "This is a disappointing confirmation" that "A lengthy period of non-democratic rule has dangerously eroded Lebanese democracy."

Results from Jordan's Parliamentary Election: Supporters of Jordan's King Abdullah II defeated the country's Islamist opposition last week in parliamentary elections which consequently dropped their number of seats in parliament by nearly two-thirds. Prior to the election, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), which is the main opposition, threatened to boycott the polls because they argued electoral law ensures independents will win most seats. Also, ahead of the election, the polls suggested a low voter turn out because of "growing frustration and disenchantment among voters." Moreover, Jordan played down reports of electoral fraud in which Interior Minister Eid al-Fayez said the authorities arrested two people who "tried to buy votes," but said otherwise voting was trouble free. In addition, out of the 885 candidates there were a record number of 199 women.

Arab Participation at Annapolis: In the final days leading up to the Annapolis meeting the Arab League, including Saudi Arabia and Syria have agreed to attend. However, according to one observer, the Annapolis meeting is "unconvincing" and "insincere," therefore he suggests "If Annapolis is a confused and murky process, the Arab world should respond to it with clarity and confidence." Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has called for Gaza's Hamas rulers to be "brought down," which is his strongest call yet for their removal. One pundit has called Abbas' remark "understandable, but misguided."

Musharraf Deemed Eligible for Presidency: Last week, Pakistan's newly appointed Supreme Court issued a ruling affirming President Pervez Musharraf's presidential eligibility, while imprisoned opposition leader Imran Khan began a hunger strike. Most recently, Musharraf has allowed Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to return to Pakistan after being exiled to Saudi Arabia and now Sharif prepares to register for parliamentary elections although he says he will boycott the vote unless Musharraf ends emergency rule. Moreover, in response to the political chaos and power struggle between Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto one pundit argues that the "core problem plaguing Pakistani society" is that "Without a strong and independent judiciary, Pakistan, a nuclear-armed state, will forever be at the mercy of dictators and power-hungry politicians."

Assessing Security in Iraq: Despite persistent sectarian tensions in the Iraqi government, Sunnis and Shiites are collaborating at the local level to protect their communities from militants by way of a US backed policing movement called Concerned Citizens, which some think is "a genuine public expression of reconciliation that has outpaced the elected government's progress on mending the sectarian rift." However, one critic questions this optimism about the good sign emerging in Iraq and notes that "there have been a number of 'lulls' in violence" since 2003. Another observer analyzes Moqtada al-Sadr, claiming that descriptions of him as "anti-American provocateur" and a "nationalist force...selflessly serving the interests of all Iraqis..." are both inaccurate.



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11.15.2007

News Concerning Middle East Reform

This is the news section of the latest issue of Arab Reform Bulletin (October 2007) Published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace:


Headlines:

  • Lebanon: Presidential Elections; Anti-Syrian MP Assassinated
  • Egypt: Media and Human Rights Crackdown; Brotherhood Leaders Released
  • Yemen, Morocco: New Millennium Challenge Corporation Agreements; Fact Sheet
  • Syria: Blogger Sentenced
  • Jordan: Ex-Legislator Sentenced; IAF to Contest Elections; Publication Restrictions
  • Tunisia: Pressure on Newspaper; Activists’ Hunger Strike
  • Algeria: FIS Leader Arrested
  • Morocco: New Cabinet; Journalist Sentenced to Jail
  • Saudi Arabia: Succession Law; Judicial Reforms; Women Driving Campaign
  • Oman: Run-up to Shura Elections
  • United Arab Emirates: Jail Sentence for Journalists Abolished
  • Kuwait: TV Producer Charged with Insulting Shi’a
  • Bahrain: NDI Returns; Cabinet Change; Anti-Corruption Efforts
  • Upcoming Political Events

Contents:


Lebanon: Presidential Elections; Anti-Syrian MP Assassinated

Parliament adjourned a session to elect a new president until October 23, after members of the Hizballah-led opposition bloc boycotted and the required two-thirds quorum was not reached. The opposition wants to prevent the Western-backed majority from electing an anti-Syrian head of state. President Emile Lahoud is due to step down no later than November 23, by which time the parliament must choose a successor who, by political consensus, must be a Maronite Christian. Leading presidential candidates include Nasib Lahoud, Boutrous Harb, Robert Ghanim, Jean Obeid, and Michel Aoun.

MP Antoine Ghanim, a member of the Maronite Phalange Party, was assassinated September 19 in a car bomb attack in the mainly Christian Sin al-Fil District in East Beirut. MP Ghanem belonged to the March 14 coalition led by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, which now has a dwindling majority of 67 in the 128-seat parliament. Since the February 2005 murder of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, six March 14 MPs have been assassinated.


Egypt: Media and Human Rights Crackdown; Brotherhood Leaders Released

On October 7, twenty-two Egyptian newspapers staged a one-day strike to protest the recent crackdown on independent journalists. The latest case came on September 2 4 , as al-Wafd opposition newspaper editor Anwar al-Hawari, deputy editor Mahmoud Ghalab, and political editor Amir Salim were convicted under Article 102 of the penal code for publishing news that “disturbs public security,” after the newspaper published the minutes of a closed session of the Shura Council’s Legislation Committee. The three editors were sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to pay 2201 Egyptian pounds (US $397) each in fines and damages. They filed an appeal and are free on 5,000 Egyptian pounds (US $895) bail each. Click here for details. On September 13, four independent newspaper editors received similar sentences for criticizing President Mubarak and Gamal Mubarak.

In a related development, the trial of Ibrahim Eissa, editor of the Egyptian daily al-Dustur has been postponed to October 24, 2007. Eissa was charged on September 5 with publishing false rumors that President Husni Mubarak was seriously ill. On October 1, the court announced that eight additional related charges have been filed against Eissa, seven of which have been filed by lawyers affiliated with the ruling National Democratic Party. Click here for more information.

The Cairo Governor’s Office shut down the Association for Human Rights Legal Aid, which reports on human rights violations and provides legal assistance to victims, and took control of its assets on September 18. The governor had issued a decree September 4 that ordered the closure of the organization, citing article 17 of the Law on Associations (84/2002), which bans nongovernmental organizations from receiving foreign funding without prior government permission. The organization has appealed the decree before the Administrative Court, and a hearing was set for October 21. Click here for details. The White House expressed “deep concern” at the closure and the crackdown on journalists; click here for the statement.

Muslim Brotherhood political department chief Isam al-Aryan and nine other leading Brotherhood members were released from detention on October 6. The men were arrested on August 27 in an escalating Egyptian crackdown on political dissent. On October 3, the State Security Court ordered the release of senior members Mohyi Hamid, Mahmoud Ghozlan, and Mustafa al-Ghonaimi within fifteen days.

Two Egyptian activists for Shi’i rights were detained and questioned on September 29, after they criticized torture in Egyptian prisons. The Public Prosecutor charged Muhammad al-Dereini and Ahmed Sobh under Article 98(f) of the penal code with "promoting extreme Shi`i beliefs with the intent of creating contempt for the Islamic religion," and under Article 102 with "spreading false rumors" to "undermine trust in security agencies." Conviction on these charges can result in up to five years in prison. Click here for more information.

Authorities detained eight trade unionists at a giant textile factory north of Cairo on September 24 on accusations of “unlawful gathering” and “destruction of public property.”Thousands of workers at the government-owned Misr Spinning and Weaving Company went on strike September 23 to protest unpaid profit shares and low wages. The strike ended September 29 after management agreed to give higher bonuses and improve working conditions. Since 2006, local media have documented over 200 instances of labor unrest, primarily demanding wage increases, in Egypt.


Yemen, Morocco: New Millennium Challenge Corporation Agreements; Fact Sheet

In September 2007, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) approved a two-year $20.6 million threshold program with Yemen to fight corruption, increase judicial capacity, improve elections, and strengthen the investment climate. After suspending Yemen from eligibility for threshold assistance in November 2005 due to a decline in eight categories (including corruption control, regulatory quality, trade policy, and fiscal policy) MCC reinstated Yemen as eligible for threshold assistance in February 2007, citing a series of reforms. Broad improvements in governance would be necessary for Yemen to become eligible for a full MCC compact.

The MCC also signed a compact agreement valued at $698 million--representing a six-fold increase in annual U.S. assistance--with Morocco in August. The planned projects will target productivity and employment in agriculture, fisheries, and tourism, and the financial sector, as well as promoting entrepreneurship among young people.

Click here for a fact sheet on the MCC and Arab countries compiled by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.


Syria: Blogger Sentenced

On September 23, the Supreme State Security Court convicted online writer Ali Zine al-Abidine Mejan of “writings unauthorized by the government that harm ties with a foreign state” and sentenced him to two years in prison for posting online commentaries criticizing Saudi Arabia. Syrian authorities have held two men in incommunicado detention since June 2007 for expressing online views that are critical of the Syrian government. Click here for more information.


Jordan: Ex-Legislator Sentenced; IAF to Contest Elections; Publication Restrictions

A state security court sentenced on October 9 former parliamentarian Ahmad Oweidi al-Abbadi to two years in prison for "attacking the state's prestige and reputation." Al-Abbadi, a member of parliament 1989-1993 and 1997-2001 and head of the Jordan National Movement (a party not recognized by the government) was arrested on May 3 after posting an open letter to U.S. senator Harry Reid on his party’s website that accused Interior Minister Eid al-Fayez and other government members of corruption. Click here for more information.

Jordan’s principal opposition party, the Islamic Action Front, issued a statement on September 25 announcing that it will participate in parliamentary elections scheduled for November 20 “in view of the difficult national and regional situation and to spare our youth from pessimism and depression.” The Front had threatened to boycott elections, alleging that the current electoral law favors tribal constituencies over the Islamist-strongholds of Palestinian-populated cities.

The Jordanian Press and Publications Department announced on September 25 that regulations of the Press and Publications Law will be extended to websites and online publications. The department stated that it will not attempt to censor content, but will monitor it and prosecute if needed. Journalists and civil rights activists protested the measure as “damaging to freedom of expression.” The press law provides for fines of up to 28,000 Jordanian Dinars (approx. US $40,000) for defamation, libel, and insult to religious beliefs, or publishing material that fuels sectarianism or racism.


Tunisia: Pressure on Newspaper; Activists’ Hunger Strike

A Tunisian court on October 1 ordered the eviction of the opposition weekly al-Mawkif from its offices. Editor-in-chief Rachid Khechana called the eviction a punishment for publishing a joint statement with the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) calling for political reform on July 25, 2007. Al-Mawkif Director Nejib Chebbi and Secretary General of the PDP Mia al-Gariby have been on a hunger strike since September 20 to protest the government’s use of the judicial system to intimidate reformists. Lotfi Hajji, the local correspondent for al-Jazeera, was physically abused by plain-clothed police four times between September 20 and 27 as he tried to report on the hunger strike. Click here for more information.


Algeria: FIS Leader Arrested

Algerian police arrested Abdel Qader Bourkhamkham, a founding leader of the banned Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), on October 3 at Jijel airport as he was boarding a plane to the capital. Authorities did not announce a reason for the arrest, but observers attribute it to a September 22 online statement in which Bourkhamkham denied Islamist involvement in armed activities, attributed the violence to pro-government forces, and called al-Qaeda operations in the Maghreb countries a myth. Boukhamkham was previously sentenced to five years in prison in 1991, of which he served three together with other FIS leaders.


Morocco: New Cabinet; Journalist Sentenced to Jail

Morocco announced on October 15 its new thirty-three member government, led by Prime Minister Abbas al-Fassi. Al-Fassi, previously Minister of State without portfolio, is leader of the nationalist Istiqlal (Independence) party, which won a plurality in September 7 elections for the lower house of parliament. The most significant cabinet changes include new Finance Minister Salaheddine Mezouar and Foreign Minister Taieb Fassi Fihri. Minister of Interior Chekib Binmoussa and Minister of Islamic Affairs Ahmed Toufiq will continue in their positions, considered key to national security. The new cabinet includes seven women, up from two in the previous government, and is formed of a coalition of Istiqlal, the Socialist Union of Popular Forces, the National Rally of Independents, and the Party of Progress and Socialism, plus independents. Al-Fassi did not invite the Islamist Party of Justice and Development, which won the second highest number of seats in the elections, to join the government. Click here for the cabinet line-up in Arabic.

A Casablanca court of appeals sentenced al-Watan al-An journalist Mustafa Hurmatallah to seven months in prison September 18 for publishing a leaked internal security memo. Hurmatallah had appealed an earlier sentence of eight months on the same charge. Click here for more information.


Saudi Arabia: Succession Law; Judicial Reforms; Women Driving Campaign

Saudi King Abdullah issued a royal decree outlining regulations to implement the October 2006 succession law aimed at ensuring a smooth transition of power. The succession law created a committee, to be comprised of sons and grandsons of Abdul Aziz al-Saud, the Kingdom’s founder, to select crown princes, thus future kings. The new rules will not apply to succession after King Abdullah, who has already chosen Prince Sultan al-Saud to follow him. Succession in the past has been decided by a small group of powerful royals; the new procedures aim to broaden the process.

The Saudi King announced on October 3 a comprehensive overhaul of the Kingdom’s legal system. The King issued a number of new laws regulating the judiciary and the Board of Grievances and allocated seven billion Saudi riyals (approx. $2 billion) for the planned reforms. The new rules, which emphasize the independence of judges, set up a supreme court whose main functions will be to oversee the implementation sharia as well as laws issued by the king, commercial courts, labor courts, personal status courts, and a fund for training judges. The Board of Grievances will continue to handle administrative disputes involving government departments. Currently, justice in Saudi Arabia is administered by a system of religious courts, and judges have wide discretion to issue rulings according to their own interpretation of Islamic sharia. Click here for more information.

Over 1,100 Saudi activists, men and women, petitioned Saudi King Abdullah on September 23 to lift a ban on driving for women. The petition, submitted on Saudi Arabia’s National Day, is the brainchild of four activists (Fawzia al-Ayouni, Wajiha al-Huwaider, Ibtihal Mubarak, and Haifa Usra) who established the Committee for Women’s Rights to Drive. This petition marks the second major effort by women to break the ban on driving. In November 1990, a group of forty-seven women defied the ban in Riyadh, only to be rounded up by police. The following year, a fatwa was issued by then-mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bin Baz prohibiting women from driving. Click here to view the petition in Arabic.

Lawyer Isam Basrawi, one of nine advocates of an Islam-based constitutional monarchy, was released from prison on September 22 after being held without trial for more than seven months. His release came after a September 13 petition to King Abdullah signed by 135 activists calling for the nine detainees (who include lawyers, university professors, and businessmen) to be freed or tried publicly. The interior ministry attributed their arrest to alleged involvement in terror funding. Click here for more information.


Oman: Run-up to Shura Elections

Elections for Oman’s Shura Council will be held on October 27, with 717 candidates (including 20 women) running in 61 districts. Districts with more than 30,000 inhabitants will elect two members; smaller ones will choose one member each. All nationals aged 21 and above are qualified to vote and stand as candidates. A total of 338,683 voters has registered for this year's ballot, an increase of 50 per cent compared to the last election in 2003.


United Arab Emirates: Jail Sentence for Journalists Abolished

UAE prime minister Sheikh Muhammad bin Rashid al-Maktum decreed on September 25 that journalists can no longer be imprisoned for reasons relating to their work, setting a first for the decriminalization of media offenses in the region. A long-time demand of journalists, the decision came two days after a Dubai court sentenced two journalists to two months in prison for libel against a woman involved in a domestic dispute. Click here for more information.


Kuwait: TV Producer Charged with Insulting Shi’a

The Kuwaiti Public Prosecutor charged on October 1 Nayef al-Rashid, producer of a controversial television series, with insulting Shi’i beliefs and practices and producing a program for the Saudi-owned satellite channel MBC without prior approval by the Kuwaiti Ministry of Information. The TV series had already been banned.


Bahrain: NDI Returns; Cabinet Change; Anti-Corruption Efforts

Bahrain’s Crown Prince, Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, announced on September 22 a campaign to combat corruption and bring corrupt high officials to justice. A wide-ranging investigation into the country’s major government-owned companies resulted in the criminal prosecution of a number of high executives in Bahrain’s Aluminum Company (ALBA) and Gulf Air.

The Bahrain government announced on September 25 that the National Democratic Institute (NDI) will resume its work in Bahrain under the supervision of Bahrain’s governmental Institute for Political Development (BIPD) with a series of training programs for parliamentarians. NDI’s operations in Bahrain were suspended and its representative was ordered out of Bahrain in May 2006, several months before parliamentary elections.

Two ministers left office in September under pressure from parliament. Minister of Health Nada Haffad was removed from office September 25 following a parliamentary probe into deteriorating health services and alleged mismanagement. Haffad, Bahrain’s first female minister, had announced that she would resign if the parliament continued to abuse its investigatory powers for political gains. Information minister Muhammad Abdul Ghaffar was also removed from office on September 25; he was facing a parliamentary investigation for allowing an allegedly provocative dance performance at a cultural festival. He was also facing criticism from the business community for measures banning alcohol and entertainment in hotels.

The opposition al-Wefaq parliamentary bloc submitted on September 19 draft amendments to the controversial Public Gatherings Law. The current law stipulates that permission of the Ministry of Interior is to be obtained three days before a public gathering and that rallies may not take place within 500 meters of a school or a health center. The Law provides for a jail sentence of up to six months for violations. Al-Wefaq’s amendments seek to reduce the notice period to 24 hours, remove geographical restrictions, and reduce the jail sentence to one month.

Eleven Bahraini human rights organizations, opposition groups, and representatives from the International Center for Transitional Justice met in a conference September 24-27 to discuss a proposed Truth and Reconciliation Committee to address government human rights violations from the 1970s to the 1990s. The Committee’s launch date was set for December 10, 2007, the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


Upcoming Political Events
  • Lebanon: Parliamentary session to elect president, October 23, 2007
  • Oman: Shura Council Elections, October 27, 2007
  • Egypt: National Democratic Party Conference: November 3-6, 2007
  • Jordan: Legislative Elections, November 20, 2007
  • Middle East International Meeting, Annapolis MD, November 2007 (tentative)
  • Algeria: Municipal Elections, November 29, 2007


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11.07.2007

Torture in Egypt

Torture in Egypt…criminals escaping punishment

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) on Wednesday 8th August 2007 issued its report Torture in Egypt…criminals escaping punishment issued as part of EOHR’s continued campaign to put an end to this horrific crime.

The report describes cases of torture and mistreatment inside police stations which occurred between 1993 and July 2007 and which were documented by EOHR’s fieldwork unit using victims’ testimonies, complaints presented by victims’ relatives, the records of public prosecution office investigations, forensic and other medical records which confirm that injuries are the result of torture. More than 567 cases of torture inside police stations are documented, including 167 deaths which EOHR strongly suspects were the result of torture and mistreatment. These cases are merely a limited sample amongst hundreds of other cases received by EOHR in which documentation was has to achieve whither by EOHR or by the victims. The cases are merely an indication of the extent to which torture has spread in police stations, and the extent of the inability of the law to stop its spread and bring to justice and prosecute its perpetrators.

The report is divided into the following sections:

1. The legislative and legal framework surrounding torture in Egypt
This section presents the most important international instruments criminalising torture in addition to provisions of the Egyptian constitution and the Penal Code which prohibit torture.

2. Cases of torture in 2007
This section presents the most significant torture cases which occurred in 2007. It describes 26 cases, including three fatalities. The majority of cases occurred in July, when EOHR documented ten cases of torture in police stations. The most significant case involved Yahya Abdallah Attoum who was burnt in Siwa police station. Nasr Ahmed Abdallah el-Saidi died as a result of torture after police officers from the Mansoura police station beat him on his hands and dragging him on the floor.

3. Conclusion and recommendations
In the conclusion of its report, EOHR reaffirms that the use of torture to extract confessions from those accused of, or suspected of having committed, crimes, or against their relatives where the suspect cannot be found is a widespread phenomenon in police stations, state security investigations headquarters and prisons. Crimes of torture also occur in Egyptian streets in broad daylight, at police checkpoints and in people’s homes – a flagrant violation of their dignity and the freedom they enjoy under the Egyptian constitution and international human rights instruments.

Further facilitating torture and making it even more dangerous is the continued state of emergency which Egypt has endured since 1981, and legislative shortcomings which do not deter the perpetrators of torture. In addition, victims of torture cannot seek recourse to justice in order to seek redress for the damage caused by the torture. Old laws, and the introduction of new, exceptional, legislation and enabling these laws to overwrite values of justice and equality has undermined the understanding of legitimacy. This is in addition to the fact that certain policemen commit serious violations of citizens’ rights and yet the existing legal system does not help to put an end to the occurrence of these violations but rather adds legitimacy to them, and criminals escape justice.

As part of its duty to protect human rights, the government must therefore demonstrate a willingness to prosecute criminals.

Since its first report on torture issued in 1990 EOHR has presented a number of recommendations to the authorities, in order that the measures and procedures necessary to combat the spread of torture in Egypt are taken. EOHR renews its calls to the government to implement the following recommendations put forward previously:

1. The Interior Minister is not shall not veil incidents of torture in police stations, police departments and prisons, and fails to take measures which will ensure that police officers who commit these crimes are brought to justice.

2. The Egyptian government must ratify articles 21 and 22 of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment of Punishment (CAT). The protocols allow the presentation of complaints from States parties and individuals concerning the failure of the Egyptian government to uphold the CAT’s provisions. 3. Article 126 of the Penal Code must be amended in order that it complies with article 1 of the CAT, ratified by Egypt in 1986.

4. The proposal previously submitted by EOHR for the amendment of certain articles concerning torture in articles 126, 129 and 280 of the Penal Code and articles 63 and 232 of the Criminal Procedures Code must be examined.

5. A law stipulating that the police investigations system is to be implemented must be issued, provided that the Ministry of Justice abides by it during police investigations and all matters concerning the course of justice and the implementation of court verdicts.

6. Legislation establishing the right of the civil attorney to bring cases directly before the Criminal Court in cases concerning attacks on the privacy of civilians must be issued. This includes crimes described under article 126 of the Penal Code, which punishes anyone who tortures a suspect in order to obtain a confession, and articles 280 and 282 which makes it an offence to arrest someone without lawful reason.

7. Law no. 121 (1956) which amended article 63 of the Criminal Procedures Law must be annulled. This law restricts the right to bring public claims against public servants and those under their authority including police officers in the public prosecution office. The previous system, which allowed plaintiffs to bring a direct case, must be reinstated.

8. The first optional protocol of the CAT, which allows the Committee Against Torture to receive complaints from individuals and examine them, must be ratified.

9. The second optional protocol to the CAT must be ratified. Issued in 2002, States parties to it allow international, independent experts to organise periodic visits to places of detention in these States, and establishing a national frame to organise visits to places of detention in cooperation with national experts.

10. The Criminal Procedures Code must provide for the right of suspects to have access to a lawyer during his interrogation in the police station.

11. An immediate investigation must be launched by the public prosecution office into complaints of assaults suffered by detainees in prisons and places of detention submitted by groups, individuals and human rights organisations. The results of these investigations must be made public.

12. The public prosecution office must conduct periodic investigations of police stations and departments in order to establish detainees’ legal circumstances, seize instruments used for torture and bring to justice those who use them. EOHR urges the public prosecution office to release the detainees being held in Montaza police station.

13. An administrative inquiry must be held alongside the public prosecution office investigations into police officers who infringe the law in their dealings with civilians in police stations, and bring disciplinary proceedings against them.

14. A permanent and independent investigatory mechanism must be put in place comprising judges, lawyers and doctors who will examine all allegations of torture in police stations and police departments and send those responsible for trial. The mechanism must possess the authority necessary to enter all places of detention and collect the information and evidence it requires. It must also be able to talk to all individuals it wishes to consult. Its role should be restricted to secondary matters, but rather extend to encompass the political, social and psychological aspects of the phenomenon of violence inside police stations and put forward the solutions necessary to put an end to it. S

15. Fixed and defined rules, standards and directives must be put in place governing the conduct of police officers, particularly in investigation departments. These standards must be independent of the extent to which police officers successfully identify the perpetrators of crimes they are investigating. This is because the link between successful identification of perpetrators and the fate of the police officer’s career sometimes pushes them towards violating suspects’ rights.

16. Cultural seminars and intensive training sessions must be put together for police officers and, in particular, those working in criminal investigation. These seminars and sessions should deal with ways of dealing with detainees inside police stations in a manner which respects their dignity and the fundamental freedoms described in the Constitution, domestic legislation and the provisions of the international human rights instruments ratified by the Egyptian government. This must be accompanied by the teaching of human rights as part of the study programme in the Police Academy and institutions and schools which provide vocational training for police officers, especially police corporals institutions.

17. The authorities must cooperate with human rights groups in the investigation of complaints presented to the attorney general and interior minister. These complaints must be supplemented with the results of investigations and representatives allowed to inspect conditions in prisons and places of detention and visit police stations.


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- Egypt Democracy Watch

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